I’m a little bit late to the party as I share my review of Before You Go by debut novelist Clare Swatman. So many people have read it and enjoyed it in hardback and on their kindles – this was one of those rare first novels that featured in many a bestseller list, even before its paperback release. But that paperback release is happening today (27th July) as Pan release it with a redesigned cover with a touch of blue in the background. I loved the original black and white cover, but I’m guessing Pan know rather better than me what might prompt readers to take the book down from a shelf or drop it into their supermarket trolley.
Before You Go is powerful story of love and loss perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day, by debut author Clare Swatman.
When Zoe’s husband Ed dies, her world caves in. But what if Zoe can get Ed back?
You find your soulmate…
Some people stare love in the face for years before they find it. Zoe and Ed fumbled their way into adulthood, both on different paths – but always in the same direction. Years later, having navigated dead-end jobs and chaotic house shares, romance finally blossoms. Their future together looks set . . .
Then the unthinkable happens.
One morning, on his way to work, Ed is knocked off his bike and dies. Now Zoe must find a way to survive. But she’s not ready to let go of the memories. How can she forget all of the happy times, their first kiss, everything they’d built together? Zoe decides she has to tell Ed all the things she never said.
Now it’s too late. Or is it?
Now I do have a bit of a confession to make – I really didn’t enjoy One Day. And that’s often the problem, I think, with making those comparisons. But I did enjoy Me Before You, so I picked this one up hoping it owed more to Jojo Moyes than David Nicholls. And I’m not sure that those comparisons were really necessary at all – this was a strongly written and original story, with a well judged emotional edge.
I’ve seen others describe it as “a life-changing read”, and I must admit that it didn’t have quite that impact on me – perhaps it depends on your personal experience and viewpoint – but it was a book with sympathetic characters, a convincing relationship, well drawn emotions, a nice gentle humour, copious musical and cultural references, and plenty to keep you turning the pages as you wonder quite how the story will work itself out by the end. And the cleverness of the construction means that this book actually has two endings, one of them at the book’s beginning – a challenging structure, but it works very well.
Not entirely the book for me on this occasion, but this book will deservedly fly off the shelves this summer as a holiday read of choice. I wish the author every success – and I’ll certainly look forward to trying her writing again with her second book.
I purchased an e-copy of this book from Amazon for my kindle.
About the author
Clare Swatman is a journalist for a number of weekly women’s magazines. Clare was Features Editor for Bella and has written for Best, Woman’s Own and Real People. She writes for her local magazine as well as the travel pages for Take a Break. Clare lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two boys. Before You Go is her first novel, and she’s busy working on her second.